Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Q&A with Honor Moore

Honor Moore is the author of the new memoir Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury. Her other books include The Bishop's Daughter, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker and The Paris Review. She teaches at The New School, and she lives in New York.

Q: Why did you decide to write this memoir focused on your mother's life?

A: Seven years ago when I started this I was almost 20 years older than she was when she died at 50. I wondered, “What would happen if I took a look at her life?” At the very least, I get to spend time with the mother I lost when I was so young.

Q: Did you need to do much research to write the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?

A: I had the writing she had done from childhood until her death, a book she had published, diaries, hundreds of pages of correspondence between her and my father when they were courting during the war, and correspondence with me. I interviewed several people and asked the odd question of others, but really what I needed to do was think, remember, and meditate on what I had.

Q: As you worked on the book, do you feel your view of your mother's life changed at all?

A: I had always thought of her as a very tragic figure because of her early death at 50, but it turned out that she was not tragic. She was kind of a triumphant, amazing woman of her generation. That was a slow dawning surprise. 

Q: How was the book's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: I was always going to call the final chapter something like revolution. Then one day I scrawled the word "our" next to the typed word "revolution." I was away with writer friends and one of them walked into the room and said, "Have you given any further thought to the title?” I looked down and saw the words "our revolution." I said the words and tears came and my friend said, that's it.

By then I knew that the story of the book was the revolution in the life of both my mother and myself, while taking place in what were revolutionary times in American society.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I'm working on a new poetry collection and I'm finishing co-editing an anthology of second wave feminist writing (1963-1991) for Library of America, working with Alix Kates Shulman, to be published in 2021.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: It was truly fascinating to weave my mother’s writing through mine, to produce an account of her life, to be so close to how she developed and grew, the choices she made, and the experiences she had.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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